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'It Is the Only Way to Go'

May 14, 1996

When someone says you can't discuss religion or politics, I always add "or bilingual education." I taught English as a second language and then bilingual classes, and it is my opinion that it is the only way to go.

I found that when the students could read well in Spanish, they transferred to English very quickly. Meanwhile, they were being instructed in mathematics, science and social studies in Spanish and didn't get behind. Above all, they were being taught to speak English.

I would go further. I think Spanish (or whatever language is involved) should be developed throughout school so that students could be completely bilingual.

JACQUELINE L. WILLIAMS

Huntington Park

'Official Language Is English'

I am a high school junior at Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles. I feel that bilingual education should not be provided in the public schools. We live in a country whose official language is English, not Spanish, not Chinese, or any other language. I believe in preserving a native language; however, this should take place at home. It should be up to the parent, not the school, to teach their child their native tongue.

There is a sort of persecution that a child who does not speak English gets from his or her peers. Learning English intensively will only relieve this trouble.

ELAINE CHEUNG

Los Angeles

'Bilingualism Is Never a Negative'

"Bilingual" is a friendly word: one person, two languages. But it's being turned into a word signifying detriment. Bilingualism is never a negative. It's always an asset. Not having a common language is the problem. There's a clear distinction here.

If ever this nation of immigrants stops being afraid of bilingualism and instead values it, and if we acknowledge that one of the languages needs to be common to us all so that we can understand and trust one another, discussions on bilingual education will be healthy.

Parents protesting that the bilingual program isn't working for their children will be listened to. Teachers will dare to reevaluate it and make all changes necessary for the children's sake. Children won't be ashamed of their primary language, will value and keep it, and will know that being bilingual is a terrific asset.

Monolingualism is yesterday's hindrance. All children, whatever their primary language, are enriched by becoming bilingual.

DAMIANA CHAVEZ

Los Angeles

'Two Languages for Everybody'

There is virtually no bilingual education in California (or anywhere in the United States). By definition, bilingual education means education in two languages for everybody. It does not mean the toleration of another language just long enough for its speakers to learn English and assimilate into the English-speaking mainstream.

ROBERT B. KAPLAN

Rancho Palos Verdes

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